After the opera, Princess Betsy hosts her social set at her house. Before Vronsky, Anna, and Karenin arrive, several people gossip about the love triangle. Another society lady defends Anna, deriding Karenin as stupid, and saying that it’s not Anna’s fault if everyone falls in love with her.
Petersburg society is well aware of the complex relationship between Anna and Vronsky, but neither of their reputations is tarnished; on the contrary, Karenin is seen as somewhat stupid, and Anna praised as irresistible. The social circle accepts a certain level of flirtatious—or even more—behavior.
Vronsky arrives from the “Bouffe,” or the French comic opera, which is more entertaining but a less respectable show than the opera.
Vronsky chooses to lead an entertaining but less respectable lifestyle.